- Contractors protest N8bn unpaid contracts at National Assembly
By Udora Orizu
The House of Representatives at the plenary yesterday directed its Committee on Public Procurement to investigate allegations of procurement deception, staff victimisation and the ongoing management problem in Project Development Institute (PRODA) Enugu, which is under the Federal Ministry of Technology.
This is as the contractors, who said they executed various projects amounting to N8 billion for the institute, stormed the National Assembly complex to protest the non-payment of their money by the Ministry of Science and Technology.
The House also resolved to invite the Minister of Science and Technology, Ogbonnaya Onu; Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha; Director-General of BPP, Mamman Ahmadu, and PRODA management to appear before the committee to offer some explanations during the course of the investigations.
It also mandated the institute to stop all further procurement activities on the 2020 budget, and pay contractors and suppliers as well as consultants who have executed contracts allocated to them, without further delay.
The resolution followed the adoption of a motion of urgent importance, sponsored by Hon. Henry Nwawuba.
Moving the motion, Nwawuba noted that PRODA in Enugu is a research and development agency under the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology with the objective to facilitate the development and deployment of science and technology apparatus to enhance the pace of socioeconomic development of the country, through appropriate technological inputs into productive activities.
He said the House is aware that the federal government, through the Minister of Science and Technology in its later dated November 17, 2020, suspended the Director-General/CEO, who is the Secretary of the Board and the Chairman, PRODA Governing Board, Onjeh Daniel.
The lawmaker stated that some serious management problem have emerged consequent to the suspension which has further degenerated to deception and fraud in the 2020 procurement process, indiscriminate suspension of officers and unprofessional conduct and victimisation.
He expressed concerns that the contractors, who may have borrowed money to execute or conclude their jobs, may be subject to financial pressures and untold hardship if PRODA continues to withhold their payments.Earlier, the contractors, who stormed the National Assembly complex to protest unpaid contracts, explained that the money settles the billions of naira outstanding for constituency projects they completed since December 2020.
Speaking with journalists, the leader of the group, Joy Uche, lamented how hard it had been for them to take care of their families, adding that some of them had died in the process of trying to get their entitlements.